Euro 2016 daily five: The Team of the Group Stage; Wales and Iceland grab their opportunities

With Day 14 of Euro 2016 in the books, we have collated some of the best of our content from the last 24 hours in one place.

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Thursday, Day 14, was a day off for the teams at Euro 2016, but we have collated some of the best of our content from the last 24 hours in one place. All the latests news, plus group guides, kick-off times and news from around the teams can be found at our special microsite.

1 — Wales, Hungary and Iceland made the most of rare opportunity

The group stage of the European Championship has now been completed, with 24 teams whittled down to 16 ahead of the start of the knockout rounds on Saturday.

It has been a mixed opening couple of weeks in France, with the tournament’s new format having a positive impact in some ways and a negative one in others.

Euro 2016’s goals-per-game ratio is currently lower than previous editions of the competition, for example, but the first set of matches were generally much more competitive than many predicted.

Read Greg Lea's a brief summary of all six groups at Euro 2016, as well as some awards based on the tournament's first 36 encounters.

2 — Bale, Payet, Kroos all make the group-stage team

Based on the first 36 encounters of Euro 2016, The National's Premier League correspondent Greg Lea selected his team of the group stage. A maximum of two players per country, and candidates had to have completed at least two full matches to be eligible. Based on a 4-3-3 formation. Who made the team? Click here to find out.

3 — Reykjavik braced for another meltdown

The Icelandic capital is facing another shutdown on Monday as the tiny North Atlantic nation’s Euro 2016 saga unfolds with a knockout tie against England in Nice.

A late winner over Austria handed Iceland second spot in Group F behind Hungary and qualification for the last 16, sending the Austrians home, with Portugal also going through as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Iceland is the smallest nation ever to qualify for the European Championship and an estimated 10 per cent of Iceland's population of around 330,000 is in France to follow the team, with the rest glued to their TV screens at home.

4 — Albania’s Euro 2016 squad return to Tirana to a heroes’ welcome

Albania’s football squad was welcomed home Thursday with a red-carpet ceremony on its return from the country’s first participation at the European Championship, despite the team being knocked out at the group stage.

Prime minister Edi Rama greeted the players at Tirana airport before they boarded an open-top bus.

Albania scored their first goal in a major tournament to beat Romania 1-0 and finish third in Group A. But narrow losses to Switzerland and host France cost them a place in the knockout stages as they failed to finish as one of the four best third-place teams.

5 — Diego Forlan’s words of wisdom

One of the most striking factors of the group stage has been the success of the tournament’s so-called smaller teams, with the likes of Croatia, Wales, and Hungary all topping groups boasting traditional heavyweights Spain, England, and Portugal.

While the big tests for these nations, and others such as Iceland and Northern Ireland, await in the knockout stages, our columnist Diego Forlan explains from first hand experience why a deep run at Euro 2016 is not beyond the smaller teams.

Forlan, the former Manchester United, Inter Milan, and Atletico Madrid striker, was central to Uruguay's run to the World Cup 2010 semi-finals, and in this week's column, provides some insight into how that success can be emulated this summer in France.

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